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Goodbye Vanity URLs: Update

SEM Channel Lead

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Back in July we covered changes Google proposed to their vanity URL policy. This week Google has made some important updates, covered here...

Manufacturer Names: Removed

Google originally presented the idea of allowing advertisers to use the manufacturer name alone in place of the display URL. This is no longer the case as this option has been taken off the table and will not be replaced with any alternatives. If this was an approach you were considering, the first option is still available where you can use the manufacturer domain:

Stubbed toe

 

More Static Text Choices

Originally Google had suggested users would have the choice of either “Prescription treatment website” or “Prescription device website” but it now seems they felt that might have been too limiting to some advertisers.

Stubbed toe 2

That said, they’ve added 4 more options for a total of 6 all together:

In addition to that, they’ve also stated they will accommodate Spanish translations of these static lines as well.

 

Expected Impact

As we discussed, there’s no way to predict what this will mean with regards to how campaigns will perform after these changes. I’m going to speculate here with my professional opinion about what I predict we could see happen:

 

Click-Through-Rates (CTR) Decline

We’ve already establish that the way things are now may be perceived as deceptive. Mostly in the sense that the vanity URLs advertisers frequently choose to use make the ads appear like their informational sites similar to the likes of a Wikipedia, WebMD or MayoClinic. The reality is that in an unbranded environment where users are searching for information about a condition there’s more incentive for those users to click on an ad that appears to be an information website over an ad that is promoting a product website. It’s reasonable to assume that a user will believe they can get more relevant and meaningful information about their condition from a source positioned as a resource more than they would from a source perceived as promotional material. With more transparency about what the website is, users may very well be less inclined to click on those ads.

Lower CTRs may also in turn impact quality scores which in turn may impact the price-per-click.

 

Rate of Quality Users Increase

If users now have a better expectation of where they are going and albeit fewer of them click on the ads, what does that say about those who DO click on them? They’re more likely clicking on the ads not because they were misled but instead because they knew what they were getting and still chose to click because it is relevant and/or of interest to them. Whatever you define your “quality” as – be it bounce rates, conversions, time on site, etc – it is our belief that a user who willingly chooses to go to the website knowing full well that it’s for a product is going to be far more likely to engage with that site than the average user who lands there misinformed.

 

Next Steps

If you are a Klick client and your SEM ads will be impacted by this change, expect to hear from your representative (if you haven’t already) regarding a more detailed breakdown of what this means for your campaign. The Klick SEM team will be working to introduce alternative ad copy options for your brand to roll out before the New Year.

 

 

More About the Author

Mike Ott

Mike Ott buys traffic depending on how engaged the user is and what the clients objectives are. For him, it’s all about the end result: when he can produce a profitable campaign for a client. He's been doing SEM for over a decade now and loves that the industry is constantly changing and coming out with new innovations.

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